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Deciduous tree that can reach an age
of over 1000 years

The sessile oak, a indigenous tree species, has been chosen as the tree of the year 2014. It can live to over a thousand years and is not only attractive for forestry, but also well suited for urban environments and open landscapes. This was announced by the Dr. Silvius Wodarz trust. The sessile oak (Quercus petraea) can be found throughout Europe – except in Spain, northern Scandinavia and north-east Europe.

Form, fruits and distribution

The sessile oak and the common oak (Quercus robur) are the two most common species of oak. They’re hard to tell apart ,because their growth habit is similar. Both species develop a mighty crown and thick branches as they mature. The fruits, however, are quite different: on the sessile oak the acorns hang in bunches from a twig; on the common oak they hang singly from long stalks. The acorns of both trees are extremely nutritious and a good winter food for many animals and some birds. The winter stockpiles of squirrels and jays, which are subsequently not retrieved, account in large measure for the fact that oak trees are found over such a wide area. Acorns aren’t really suitable for human consumption, but in times of war and famine, people often ground them up as flour and coffee substitutes.

Nature’s animal home

Oak trees are often called nature’s “animal refuge”, because they offer many species such as insects a natural habitat. Their crowns are relatively permeable to light, which profits plants at ground level. Oak is an important source of timber, used to make everything from furniture, windows and staircases to tubs and barrels. In the past it was the most important wood used to build half-timber houses. Oak bark is one of the most tannin-rich plant materials available, so it’s used in leather tanning and in naturopathy. The tanning agents have both antihaemorrhagic and antibacterial properties.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de